BATON ROUGE, La.—Following a series of torrential downpours in southern Louisiana, massive flooding has caused widespread damage and displacement for both homeowners and businesses in the city of Baton Rouge. The early Aug. 2016 storm dumped an estimated 7.1 trillion gallons of water on the area, roughly three times the amount of rainfall during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. As of Aug. 25, the flooding has left 13 dead, and destroyed an estimated 60,000 homes. While day-to-day life is still far from resumed for most residents, some shops have gradually been putting the pieces back together. Printwear caught up with a few area businesses to see how they were faring.
Screen making supply and digital equipment distributor GSG experienced damage at the Baton Rouge branch.
“Our Baton Rouge office took on significant water, more than 30" in the warehouse,” notes Brandon Smith, director of marketing, adding that GSG diverted orders and phone calls to other branch locations as a contingency plan.
While the Louisiana location for GSG is roughly 85 percent back up and running, Smith points out that the flood has taken its toll on staff members. The company reports that four GSG associates were displaced, prompting the launch of a donation matching initiative at all seven office locations. Soon after the floods, GSG CEO Mark Granberry pledged to match cash donations from employees as much as $5,000. The donation matching program raised an estimated $8,500 in 24 hours. In addition to company donations, customer donations bumped the total to $19,000 to aid the displaced employees.
Printwear also caught up with Pro Print, a custom apparel shop that offers screen printing, embroidery, and art design on the northeast end of the city. Shop owner Phil Siccone described the situation at his business.
“We’re actually in the process of having the walls ripped out,” says Siccone, adding that the shop was still pushing orders out even with setbacks from the flooding.
Like most area businesses, Pro Print was evacuated during the height of the flooding, and Siccone had to wait until waters receded to get back into the shop. In addition to the walls being ripped out, Siccone states that the shop’s flooring was heavily damaged, and office electronics, like computers, were destroyed and awaiting replacement. Despite the hardships faced by the business, Siccone stressed that the local community in Baton Rouge has been extremely helpful.
Elsewhere, some shops remain unscathed but look for a balance between maintaining a business and caring for friends and family affected by the flooding.
“The business is fine, but my brother lost everything,” says Adam Lopez, owner of the Lafayette-based shop Awardmaster.
Lopez adds that several other family members have been devastated by the flood that shocked an area not prone to flooding like New Orleans. “My mom has lived in south Lafayette for 47 years. It wasn’t a flood zone. She’s never had water even close to her. Next thing you know, she’s evacuating in a boat.”
While large-scale efforts are underway by the state and federal government to help those affected, organizations like the American Red Cross, local food banks, and the Salvation Army encourage people to contribute in whatever way they can.
For more information on how to help, visit: http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/14/us/iyw-louisiana-flooding-victims-help/index.html
Natalie Frels contributed to this report with coverage of Awardmaster.